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Cycling

Ryder Hesjedal explains decision to skip Olympics

Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal says his decision to forgo the Summer Olympics is, in part, due to his desire to see younger riders get their chance.

Says he wants to give younger riders a chance to compete

Ryder Hesjedal, shown at the men's individual time trial cycling event at the 2012 Olympic Games, has decided not to participate in the 2016 Olympics this summer. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal says his decision to forgo the Summer Olympics is, in part, due to his desire to see younger riders get their chance.

The 35-year-old from Victoria, who is the only Canadian to win a Grand Tour cycling race, announced his decision via Twitter last Friday. 

He offered a little more Tuesday in a statement issued by his Trek-Segafredo racing team.

"Obviously I didn't decide about this overnight," said Hesjedal, who is currently racing in the Criterium du Dauphine in France. "The Olympic values mean a lot to me and I would have loved to represent my country, but in the end I have to look at the bigger picture.

'Health and safety come first'

"First of all, the season is still long and I don't want to jeopardize my potential race calendar with Trek-Segafredo. Health and safety come first in that respect. Secondly, I find it truly important that the younger generation of talented Canadian riders get their chance to build up Olympic experience from which they will benefit in the future."

Hesjedal, winner of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, made his third consecutive Olympic appearance at the 2012 London Games, finishing 28th in the individual time trial and 63rd in the road race.

Hesjedal, who pulled out of this year's Giro due to illness, plans to compete in several Canadian events this year, including the Quebec City-Montreal Grand Prix races, the Tour of Alberta and his hometown race, Ryder Hesjedal's Tour of Victoria.

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